Travel to UK: Covid recovered plus single dose still not considered ‘fully vaccinated’

Travellers to the UK who have recovered from Covid-19 before receiving a single dose of a vaccine are still not considered fully vaccinated by the British government and therefor continue to face quarantine after arrival.

A UK border sign welcomes passengers, but those who have recovered from Covid still face quarantine.
A UK border sign welcomes passengers, but those who have recovered from Covid still face quarantine. Photo by Ben FATHERS / AFP

The UK changed its much-criticised Covid border rules on Monday October 4th.

While the government finally accepted that those with mixed doses of two Covid-19 vaccines – such as Astra-Zeneca and Pfizer – will now be considered fully vaccinated, the same was not so clear for those who have recovered from the disease.

In recent days The Local has received many messages from readers wondering if the policy had changed because the text on the government’s website had been updated and no longer contained any explicit mention that those who received one dose after recovering from Covid were not considered fully vaccinated.

But a spokesperson for the Department of Transport confirmed to The Local on Tuesday that there had been no change in policy regarding those travellers who had recovered from Covid.

The government’s “background info” for the new travel rules state: 

  • “There has been no change to the UK’s policy regarding natural immunity. Individuals must be fully vaccinated (plus 14 days) to qualify under the fully vaccinated rules for travel to England, irrespective of proof of recent recovery from COVID-19.
  • Fully vaccinated means that you have had a complete course of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before you arrive in England. The day you had your final dose does not count as one of the 14 days. The vaccine must be administered under either: the UK vaccination programme or an approved overseas vaccination programme in a listed country. See further info on here.
  • The government will continue to assess the risk posed by people with natural immunity as we review the health measures in place and look at whether there is evidence to support any measures being eased.

In many European countries those who had Covid were only advised to get one dose of a vaccine. In these countries that is considered as fully vaccinated for the purposes of travel.

The UK policy has effectively meant thousands of “fully vaccinated” travellers from Europe have faced having to quarantine for 10 days in the UK.

This has forced many to seek out a second dose of the vaccine while others have reportedly lied on the “passenger locator form”, needed for entry into the UK by saying they had received two doses. Anyone found to have lied on their passenger locator form faces a hefty fine, however.

The EU’s Covid vaccination certificates normally only contain the date of the final injection.

Reader question: I received a single vaccine dose after recovering from Covid – what are my travel options?

Member comments

  1. Word of Warning! Anyone who has been double vaccinated in Germany and travelling to the UK should switch of the “Location” function on their smartphone!!!
    If you are double vaccinated in Germany, this will be fine to get you into the country BUT the information supplied on the Passenger Locator form will be used to enrol you in the UK NHS Track and Trace system (without your permission)
    I was pinged on a week’s trip to the UK, 2 days before I was due to fly back to Germany.
    People who are double vaccinated in the UK by the NHS are exempt from 10 days self-isolation. If you are double vaccinated in Germany (with exactly the same vaccine e.g BionTech/Pfizer) this is not recognized and you are legally obliged to self-isolate!!!
    I had to break the law (and risk a minimum GBP 1,000 fine, as well as being pulled off my plane) in order to get home to Germany where, of course, the Authorities were very happy to let me in with my Impfpass

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How Brexit and Covid have derailed Eurostar services between France and UK

The French boss of Eurostar has laid out how the combination of the pandemic, Brexit and ongoing uncertainty over new EU travel rules have left the company in a very precarious position.

How Brexit and Covid have derailed Eurostar services between France and UK

The Eurostar CEO Jacques Damas has laid out the company’s woes in a long letter to British MPs, stating that as things stand “Eurostar cannot currently pursue a strategy of volume and growth. We are having to focus on our core routes . . . and to charge higher prices to customers”.

He said that two things have significantly damaged the company – the pandemic (worsened by the fact that the company received no state aid from the UK government) and Brexit which has made travel between France and the UK considerably more complicated with more checks required at stations.

Damas said that peak capacity at both London St Pancras and Paris Gare du Nord is 30 percent less than it was pre-Brexit, because of the increased infrastructure needed to check and stamp the passports of travellers.

He said: “Even with all booths manned, St Pancras can only process a maximum of 1,500 passengers per hour, against 2,200 in 2019.

“It is only the fact that Eurostar has capacity-limited trains and significantly reduced its timetable from 2019 levels, that we are not seeing daily queues in the centre of London similar to those experienced in the Channel ports.

“This situation has obvious commercial consequences and is not sustainable in the mid to long-term.”

He added that the increased passport checks and stamping needed since Brexit adds at least 15 seconds to each passenger’s processing time, and that automated passport gates are less efficient.

The other factor that has hit the company hard was the pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions, leading to revenues being cut by 95 percent for 15 months.

The London-based company struggled to access government financial aid due to its ownership structure, with both the British and French governments reluctant to assume sole responsibility for bailing out the company.

It began as a joint venture between the British and French governments, but then the British sold off its share to private investors.

Damas said: “Contrary to the £7 billion in state aid given to our airline competitors, Eurostar did not receive any state-backed loans”. 

By May 2021 the company was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and was eventually bailed out to the tune of €290 million in loans and shareholder-guaranteed loans and equity – although this saved the company it has now left it with huge debts to be repaid.

The CEO’s letter was responding to questions from British MPs on the Transport Select Committee who wanted to know when trains would again stop at Ashford station – which has been closed since March 2020. Damas said there was no immediate prospect of that, or of reinstating the route to Disneyland Paris, while the company grapples with these financial problems.

He added that there is also “considerable uncertainty” around the new EU travel systems known as the EES and ETIAS, which are due to come into effect in 2023 and which will require extra checking of passports at the EU’s external borders – such as the UK/France border. 

READ ALSO Fears of ‘massive travel disruption’ in 2023

Many Eurostar passengers have commented recently on increased ticket prices, and it seems that there is little immediate prospect of prices going back down to 2019 levels.